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Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

There are three types of pancreatic cancer surgery that can be used to remove a tumor. These surgeries include the Whipple procedure, distal pancreatectomy, and total pancreatectomy. If the cancer has spread and cannot be removed, surgery may be done to relieve symptoms of the disease. In such cases, surgical options may include surgical biliary bypass, endoscopic stent placement, and gastric bypass.

An Overview of Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

In cases of pancreatic cancer, surgery may be used to treat or cure the disease.
Pancreatic cancer can only be cured if the cancer is found at an early stage (before it has spread) and only if the patient is healthy enough to have surgery. If the cancer has spread and cannot be removed, palliative surgery may be done to relieve symptoms of pancreatic cancer.
In this eMedTV article, the term "pancreatic cancer" refers to cancer that begins in the ducts that carry pancreatic juices (exocrine cells). This type of cancer accounts for about 95 percent of all cases of pancreatic cancer.
(Click Pancreatic Islet Cell Cancer for information about surgery and other treatment options for a less common type of pancreatic cancer.)
Pancreatic cancer surgery is a major operation. The extent of a surgery will depend on factors such as:

Tumor Removal

There are three types of surgery that may be used to take out the tumor:
  • The Whipple procedure
  • Distal pancreatectomy
  • Total pancreatectomy.
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